Thu | May 23, 2019

Maduro reveals secret meetings with US envoy

Published:Friday | February 15, 2019 | 9:26 AM
AP photo

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — A month into Venezuela’s high-stakes political crisis, President Nicolas Maduro revealed in an Associated Press interview that his government has held secret talks with the Trump administration.

He also predicted he would survive an unprecedented global campaign to force his resignation.

While harshly criticising President Donald Trump’s confrontational stance toward his socialist government, Maduro said Thursday that he holds out hope of meeting the U.S. president soon to resolve a crisis triggered by America’s recognition of his opponent, Juan Guaido, as Venezuela’s rightful leader.

Maduro said that during two meetings in New York, his foreign minister invited the Washington-based special envoy for Venezuela, Elliott Abrams, to visit “privately, publicly or secretly.”

“If he wants to meet, just tell me when, where and how and I’ll be there,” Maduro said without providing more details.

He said both New York meetings lasted several hours.

U.S. officials have not denied Maduro’s claim of talks.

A senior administration official in Washington who was not authorised to speak publicly said U.S. officials were willing to meet with “former Venezuela officials, including Maduro himself, to discuss their exit plans.”

Venezuela is plunging deeper into political chaos triggered by the U.S. demand that Maduro step down a month into a second presidential term that the U.S. and its allies in Latin America consider illegitimate.

His opponent, the 35-year-old Guaido, burst onto the political stage in January in the first viable challenge in years to Maduro’s hold on power.

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